CORRECTION: Fixes headlines, 1st paragraph
Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore is responsible for creating an atmosphere
of environmental "micro-management" from Washington, DC and
would continue on that path if elected president
according to Becky Norton Dunlop, former secretary of natural resources for the state of Virginia. And Dunlop, in a new book she's written, says if elected president, Gore will try to dictate every aspect of our lives.
Dunlop says Gore and Carol Browner, whom Gore hand-picked to head the EPA and set its policies, believe "the only way the environment can be protected is for government to closely regulate and harshly punish companies, to keep polluters in line [and] impose national environmental policies through the EPA."
Despite what she viewed as EPA obstructionism, Dunlop says Virginia did improve its air and water quality. However, Dunlop writes in her book, "Carol Browner...seemed intolerant of anything but the most radical proposals." Browner reportedly helped write Gore's controversial 1992 book on the environment, called "Earth in the Balance."
Dunlop warns that a Gore presidency would add more government control. "I think there's no question about the fact that [from] what we've seen and heard from the Clinton-Gore-Browner administration...is he will micro-manage every aspect of our lives from the Washington bureaucracy, starting with environmental policy," Dunlop said Monday in a phone interview.
Dunlop, who is now a vice president at the Heritage Foundation, worked in the administration of Virginia Governor George Allen, and describes in her book the turbulent relationship she and Allen had with the EPA. from 1994 to 1998. Allen and Dunlop wanted to ensure environmental quality their own way, which wasn't what the EPA had in mind.
"Circumstances are going to differ almost everywhere you are in the country in terms of what are causes of pollution problems and what would be the best remedy for that community," said Dunlop, explaining why she and Allen thought Virginia's environmental quality was better managed by the state.
Dunlop recounts clashes over the EPA's attempts to make Virginia limit the number of auto emission inspection stations, impose fines on a Virginia poultry company and mandate sales of low-emission vehicles.
"In the spring of 1994, the federal government began threatening to cut off Virginia's share of federal highway funds," writes Dunlop. "This time, the Environmental Protection Agency complained that [annual] automobile emissions testing in Northern Virginia was not sufficiently centralized."
According to Dunlop, that would have meant limiting Northern Virginia motorists to one of 10 to 15 testing stations, instead of several hundred filling stations or auto repair centers. "I could...picture the long lines, 5-hour waits, blaring horns, and furious letters to the governor and me that would come if we did [that]," writes Dunlop.
Based on her experience dealing with the Clinton-Gore EPA, Dunlop concluded that their overall policy was "command and control."
"We'll tell you what we want and how we want you to get there," said Dunlop of the EPA's standard operating procedure. "It was not relevant to them that science dictates environmental solutions," she said.
Dunlop said her experience with Gore and Browner suggests that a President Gore would be unwilling to work with states on environmental issues. "Neither the vice president nor Carol Browner, when they came to Virginia to talk about environmental issues, would invite the governor or I to participate in any of their meetings," Dunlop said.
In 1997, the Allen administration won a court decision over the EPA's attempt to regulate the type of cars sold in Virginia. A three-judge federal appellate court ruled unanimously that the EPA did not have the authority to issue such an order to the states.
Then, in 1998, the Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Environmental Studies released a report showing the state's air and water quality, for which Allen and Dunlop had received much criticism from the EPA and environmental groups, actually improved from 1985 to 1998.
Dunlop says her proudest achievement was helping to dispel the notion that environmental quality must be at odds with economic growth, noting that Virginia achieved both during the Allen administration.